Rest is Not Optional

     

“In six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore, the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.” Most recognize this verse as the closing explanation for the fourth commandment of the Decalogue, or as they are more commonly known, The Ten Commandments. This article will not discuss the question of the correct day to worship God—Saturday or Sunday. However, I do want to address a topic seldom discussed: rest.

I address this subject, not as an expert, but I am learning more and more as I age how much I need to (and should) appreciate the design of God for my life in this area as in all other areas of my life. Perhaps others can learn from my failures and avoid the negative consequences I have suffered.

God wants us to rest. The seventh day, or the Sabbath, or Saturday, was mandated as a day of rest. Moses recorded the instructions of our Creator in Exodus 20:9-10: “Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates.” I understand God has not set aside a certain day of rest under the New Testament covenant of Christ, but to use this as justification for never resting is taking the omission too far.

Why did God rest on the seventh day of creation week? Isaiah 40:28 plainly teaches: “Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; His understanding is unsearchable.” Yet, the inspired record tells us He rested or ceased His creative work, and this became the paradigm the children of Israel followed in the Old Testament.

I am acquainted with the way the Bible uses sleep as a euphemism for death (Matthew 9:24, John 11:11-14, 1 Thessalonians 4:14, and others). Sleep can refer to spiritual stupor or complacency as in Romans 13:11 and 1 Thessalonians 5:6. Scripture does warn us of the dangers of sleeping during worship as Eutychus discovered in Acts 20:9. (Remember, preachers today cannot do for you what Paul did for Eutychus.) I also recall that some were rebuked for their sleep (Jonah 1:6), and the Savior was saddened that those closest to Him could not refrain from sleeping (Matthew 26:36-46).

Today, many think they wear a badge of honor if they can boast of only 3 or 4 hours of sleep nightly. Coffee, energy drinks, and all sorts of other concoctions are selling at record rates as people try to make it through the grind of another day. The Centers for Disease Control reported in a February 28, 2018, study that adults need at least 7 hours of sleep each night. How many don’t get enough? At least 33% of the American population is sleep deprived. A lack of sleep is serious, dead serious. Diabetes, depression, chronic stress, and heart disease are just a sampling of the maladies that a lack of sleep can worsen. If God wants us to take care of our physical bodies, and He does (1 Corinthians 6:19-20), then we need to take time to rest.

Practically, when we are well rested, we are much more likely to behave in a Godly way. I cannot point to a specific verse to prove this, but ask your spouse and children if there is a difference between tired husband/dad or tired wife/mom, and they will provide undeniable proof. Mark 6:31: “And He (Jesus) said to them, ‘Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.’”

I know you can make excuses (job, family obligations, don’t need it, etc.), but I urge you to take time to rest at night and relax at other times, too. Don’t ignore what God teaches in His Word! He made us and knew we needed rest. “It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep” (Psalm 127:2).

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